Cronicles of a Newly Wed




Ikechukwu Echebiri


 
© Copyright 2021 by
Ikechukwu Echebiri




Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
                                 Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

PREAMBLE

When I was young,  I always looked forward to a fairy tale wedding, followed by a wonderful - if possible endless  honeymoon. The stories I heard or read about honeymoons was out of this world, so when our wedding came I looked forward with expectation. Things were falling in line and all of a sudden, barely a day after our wedding, we were thrown out of our new flat in controversial circumstances. We spent the next few weeks squatting and resolving accommodation crisis.  Below is a true life account of how we spent our honeymoon, the most awkward way for any couple. 

MY STORY

Suddenly, there was a rap on our door; and not once but repeatedly and continuously.  I use the word 'suddenly' because we were hardly expecting or better still, not expecting any visitor, guest, anybody or anyone at all. We barely moved into the apartment for the first time that afternoon from our hotel room, we had not given out or rather disclosed the address of the apartment to anyone; except for my immediate younger brother and few family members. But even if we did, no one could be visiting us that quick, barely two hours we had arrived from the hotel. Our checking out of the hotel was because we had no money to pay for hotel room for one more day; otherwise we would have stayed behind a few more days to enjoy our honeymoon. But then, considering our plight, what could we have done? Even the one day we booked in was on the insistence of friends who arranged everything without our knowledge, and compelled us to give ourselves such a luxurious treat at that time.

The knocking persisted, to the extent that it could be considered inconveniencing. We both maintained breathless silence, listening hard, straining our eyes to search for any crack or hole or whatever we could find on the door to peep through to check who it was before opening the door. Unfortunately, we could not find any, understandably so, since we had not mastered anything or became familiar with the flat.  I moved closer to the door.

"Maybe itís our neighbor." My wife uttered helplessly in whisper, as she struggled to dress up. She was almost half-naked in her dark-blue colored lace skirt. She had already removed her top, a matching lace blouse with narrow sleeves and was about removing the skirt, when the knock came. I was still clad in my own attire, the same dark-blue lace - traditional Igbo caftan. I liked and disliked the lace. I liked it because of its glistering and glistening dark blue that glittered against all odds of color. You would not be mistaken if you called the deep blue of the lace as a clean label on the color spectrum; in fact the blue color was stable and a consistent lot-to-lot color. On the other hand, I disliked it because it weighed very heavily on my body, as if I was carrying some kilograms of load on myself in a hot November afternoon. But for the fanciful hole designs on the lace ----- holes large enough to slot in and hide a mobile handset ----- I would have been comprehensibly choked in perspiration. The holes too were the second reason why I disliked the lace, because it made it look like a ripped jeans. But then, what would I do without the lace? I had no other choice than to like it, even if a love-hate kind of love. At least it was the most expensive dress I ever bought, except for my suits. More importantly, it was the dress, nay costume we had used for our traditional wedding rites, and also our outing dress after our white wedding. So literally speaking, it was laced in history, easily the custodian of the history of our marriage to some degree though.

More than anything else, finding a flat in Lagos can much more easily be taken as the custodian of that history. Our marriage, its success or failure was more deeply steeped in it.

"What neighbor by this time of the day?" I asked my wife, frowning. We both exchanged innocent frowns, enough to emit radioactive heat to whoever it was - knocking. But at the same time as our frown, the person knocking, a man's voice harked, barked than talked. Our frown deepened, now razor sharp. From the voice we knew there maybe problem.

"Open the door, itís the landlord."He talked authoritatively. We felt relaxed and relieved, but not completely so, because the tone of his voice was harsh and unfriendly, it was in conflict with the self-introduction.

"Landlord!" My wife said.

"Maybe he came to greet his new tenants." She added. I opened the door. And the next thing, it was the most embarrassing moment of a newlywed couple, the most disastrous honeymoon package any newlywed couple could ever be given, the worst experience for any couple to undergo barely one day after their marriage, the most dehumanizing ordeal to pass through in life. It was like a moment of double tragedy.

At the doorway, our Landlord Mr. Nwokwu, his wife, brother and the street gate janitor cum security man Mr. Ibrahim stood imposingly, crowding out the doorway as if they wanted to block it to prevent us from eloping.

Between the two of them, the Landlord's Brother Mr. Louis and Mr. Ibrahim was a remarkable pair in height. Both of them were six-footers, huge and erect, with well built frame, endowed at every region of their body. Looking at and assessing both was enough to send chills to your spine. If the two of them were in the United States, they would have no doubt played in top basket ball clubs. From afar you would think that they were brothers. Although he was huge, the security man looked frail on a closer look. He was chimney black with teeth that had been de-whitened into yellow by aggressive kola nut chewing addiction and chain smoking. We learnt later on that Mr. Ibrahim had worked for the Close for over twenty five years as the Chief Security Officer and gate man. He knew the history of the Close like the back of his palms. And apart from his core assignment, the residents of the Close used him for other things; running errands and so on. Initially while we were coming to inspect the flat before paying the rent, we used to collect the keys from him, until the day we moved our loads in and changed the entry keys.

We wouldn't have shuddered the way we did if it was only the landlord and his wife at the door that afternoon, the other men made us think there was an issue, a critical assignment the landlord wanted to execute, only that we didn't know how it concerned us. We couldn't have, because we were still reveling in joyous mood of the aftermath of our wedding. My wife and I exchanged glance at the unexpected guests at our door. I struggled to greet them, starting with the landlord.

"Good afternoon Sir, good after Ma." I uttered.

But I could hardly finish the greeting before the landlord ordered, shouting, while his wife screamed out the kind of howl that is frequently yelled at a daybreak thief. At that moment, we looked like we were one, only that we didn't steal.

"Kee ndi unu bu? Who are you people? What are you doing in my house?" Mr Nwokwu was yelling unstoppable.

"Ibrahim! What are you waiting for? Throw them out... throw them out with their load, everything." The wife threw the shocker at us.

I was stunned and confused at the development and how things were turning out. "You canít do this Sir.Ē I told the landlord.

My wife too was dazed and confused. The whole thing was sounding like a film in a movie theater, only that it was real, a qualified reality TV setting. The landlord's wife kept yelling, threatening fire and brimstone.

"Throw their things out! Arrest them!"

Ibrahim remained reluctant; he had a lot of pity for us. He couldnít find the courage to do it, even the landlord's brother was pleading on our behalf that the landlord should allow us to move our small load gently. We barely had little or no load or property, just a foam, an old student's refrigerator (my wife had used at school), a traveling bag, and two 'Ghana Must Go' bags full of our clothes, books and a few other items. We had no money for TV set; we could not repaint the house or put any window blinds around it. Even half of the money we used to pay the rent was contributed by my younger brother. The earlier fraud a year ago made us broke; except for the determination to go ahead with the marriage and the hope that things would get better in the future, the conviction that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would recover our lost money, we had nothing again. Sadly, it looked like even this second apartment we paid for was going to end in deeper controversy  than the first, even much more painfully at a remarkable time in our lives as a couple.

Ibrahim never wanted to do it, but he had to, in obeisance to the order of a higher authority. So he came into the flat, grabbed one of the bags, lifted it, I tried to drag it with him, but my efforts were futile. As he lifted it, some of the content fell out, some shoes, dresses and my wife's chaplet; disgracefully, our bag was thrown out of the flat, by this time my wife was shedding tears.  She was as hurt, as she had wished she had remained in her brother's house than face the worst disgrace any woman could face a day after wedding. One by one, in execution style, all our loads were thrown out of the flat, heaped at a corner on the corridor, with a mandate from the landlord that we should clear our loads as well as vacate his premises within one hour. All our entreaties to him to explain things out fell on deaf ears. He insisted he didn't know us, he didn't know how we entered his apartment.

"Go back to wherever and whoever you paid money to and collect your money back."He insisted.

In appearance, Mr. Nwokwu looked calm, the kind of man who would not  over-labor to prove a point no matter what the situation was, and the kind who, when determined to do anything would follow it to the logical conclusion. He was miles apart and different from his wife. His wife was a bit loud, temperamental and outspoken, ready to give out a piece of her mind to you without any reservation. But the landlord... he was taciturn, firm as he was resolute. All the same, he looked devout and kind, as he later told us, my wife's chaplet which fell down from the bag while Ibrahim was throwing it out touched him deeply, because he was a devout Catholic who respected and revered sacramental. According to him, the chaplet made him to think twice later.

While the scene of our disgraceful ejection was playing out, the rest of the residents in the two story apartment came down, flocked by the window and door to watch. My wife covered her face in shame and went to a spot to cool off. I tried to call two of my brothers to come and help us to secure and move our loads to an uncleís house nearby. The plan in my head was to secure our loads somewhere, my wife would go back to stay in her brotherís house a while I tried to sort the mess out. I had planned to chastise myself for the mess, being the second rent mess I found myself in within one year. I made up my mind to remain on the street; even if it meant sleeping under any bridge in Lagos until the matter was resolved. I was determined to deal with Bro. Tony (the agent) who sublet or gave me the flat.    

On my way out of the gate to go to look for keke, (the popular Lagos commercial tricycle), the Landlord's brother and his caretaker to the property, Mr. Owoniyi (who just arrived) called me.  Mr. Owoniyi was one of the nicest house caretakers I ever met in my long career of searching for house to rent in Lagos; he was kind to a fault. Unlike most other Lagos caretakers with greedy instinct and reckless profiteering ideology, Mr. Owoniyi was contented and humble. He was small in size, slim stature and remarkable thin face which memory you would rarely part with once you had met him. He was in his sixties or seventies or thereabout, about the same age with the landlord. We learnt later that they had been together for over thirty years; the property itself was about thirty years at that time. Originally it was built in a face-me-I-face-you style (the predominant house structure in Lagos in the nineteen-seventies and nineteen-eighties when flats were not in vogue), subsequently; it was converted into flats, even though the symbolic signature long-crossing, end-to-end passage that ran across all face-me-I-face-you properties was still evident. Even as a flat, the rooms still faced each other over a shortened passage, the only difference was that the rooms were contained in the flat, they were enclosed. We always joked (later) that the building was still a face-me-I-face-you no matter the facelift that it received; it could only get out of that toga if it could be altogether redesigned and renovated.

As he called me that afternoon, I assessed him; my mind convinced me that he was different in some many ways from most of the property agents I had met in Lagos. And that showed later. Behind his over three decades practice as a realtor in Lagos, he also had a diploma in management from the UK, something you would rarely find among realtors in Lagos. In Lagos, there were many road-side property agents than there were properties to find, they adorned streets across Lagos with their slate-size advert boards announcing property availability from flats, self-contain, room apartments, duplexes, and land for sale. While the majority went this way, some would only announce 'property vacancy' on their boards. The boards may be hung with rope in batchers, corners, store fronts, kiosks or anywhere they found space. Sometimes it could even be much more hidden than exposed. In honesty, searching for apartment or rent space in Lagos could be very clumsy, as clumsy as the agents were. We experienced this forehand, my wife and I, before eventually settling for this flat, we didn't have so many choices though.

ďBrother please come, let me ask you something." Mr. Owoniyi had said as I walked back from the gate. By this time, it was around 3pm. The entire drama had started around 12pm that afternoon. I learnt the Landlord was returning from Sunday service, as he normally did every Sunday, to have an inspection on the property. That afternoon was not so much different, except that he had an extra agenda to kick us out of the building.

 While we were waiting for my brothers, Uncle and ultimately a keke to carry our loads out, the landlord and his wife waited in his brother's flat partly to wait for Mr. Owoniyi to arrive, and more importantly to ensure our loads and feet were swept out from his premises or if need be, the police would be called in to enforce his order. After pleading with him for several hours, we were so spent that we could not continue. At a point we discovered that it was more honorable for us to leave the neighborhood than to plead our way out. The shame had become more difficult to bear as passers-by, other residents of the Close were now coming in one after the other to see what was happening, so deep inside me I was wondering how we would face and interact with such people in the future if we ended up securing the flat. Surely it would be difficult to regain any more dignity. But our biggest headache was how to get back a refund of the six hundred thousand naira we had paid on the flat already; at least we needed the money to rent a new flat.

I was contemplating too many things, including renting a single room in the main, while we tried to sort things out, but then the money was not there. Even if there was money, renting a third apartment did not sound tidy, especially with our case against Bakare at the EFCC. Would I also start a new case on another house fraud against Brother Tony? I could not contemplate it. I was also contemplating whether all the things happening were not ominous signs that our marriage was not supposed to be, I hoped time would tell this.

"Good afternoon Sirs," I greeted Mr. Owoniyi and Mr. Louis. That afternoon I had greeted almost a hundred people, even many times, at least to gain some sympathy in that helpless state. Greetings do a lot of magic on people. I learnt it had a way of psychologically wiring people to be kind to you. First, it makes people to calmly uneventfully notice you, estimate and appraise you kindly, and receive you warmly. And if strangers do all this to you in one time, they are willing to help you. Greetings really open doors.

But I didnít learn this on time. Even the day I did, it was the hard way. It was one day I drove down to Ajegunle town, a suburb of Lagos. I could not find a space to park, so I drove to an inside street and parked. While parking I met an elderly woman fetching water from a water tank in front of the house where I parked, somehow, whether it was commission or omission I failed to greet her. But by the time I had finished my transactions and returned, the number plates of my vehicle had gone, they were removed by the local government task force against illegal and unauthorized parking without permit. I became helpless. At the end of the day, it took the intervention of the elderly woman to bail me out. At the end, she called me by the side to advice me to always greet people anywhere I went because it always opened doors. Originally, She had wanted to intervene on my behalf to stop them from removing the number plates in the first place, but she had to change her mind to mind her own business because I had shown her no concern, I had failed to notice her.

I have always known that greetings work, much as smile and friendliness work, even though the new age philosophy tells us not to talk to strangers, as much as possible to avoid strangers on the streets of Lagos, don't even help people who ask you for address, let them sort out their way, except you want to be hypnotized. Well, on this Sunday I had been greeting all and sundry, hoping it would do the magic.

"Yes, good afternoon. How are you?" Mr. Owoniyi responded.

"Fine Sir."I replied

"Where are you going to now?" He asked me.

"I want to go and look for Marwa." I replied. Marwa was another name for tricycle in Lagos, a name adopted after a popular former Lagos state military administrator Colonel Marwa, who made so much progress in the state as a governor during the Abacha regime. During his regime, he tackled crime and did a lot of things that earned him some acclaim in Lagos.

"For what? Okay, to carry your load." He nodded after recollecting.

"Yes Sir." I answered like in a question and answer session.

"What of your wife?" He asked.

"She is somewhere by the corner." I responded.

"Okay. She must be tired and stressed. Itís alright." He said.

 I wanted to tell him it was not alright.

"I learnt you people just wedded yesterday?" He asked like he was probing for facts that didnít concern him in the least. I nodded. "Yes Sir." My answer was weak.

He sighed. "Sorry for the embarrassment. We would sort it out. I would talk to the Landlord on your behalf. I am the Caretaker to this property.Ē I assessed him.

 "I rented it out to the woman in question who must have sublet it out to you. She is not a good woman; otherwise, she would have brought you to me and the Landlord. She only told us that her brother would be taking over the property because she wants to relocate to join her husband at Abuja. When she told me that, I instructed her to bring you and your wife to meet with the Landlord for an interview, because the Landlord would not give out his house to any tenant without seeing and interviewing the couple. As a rule of law, the Landlord would not rent out his house to singles, you have to be married and two of you would be interviewed by him. That is our standard. You also have to fill our form and other documentation, get a referee..."

Mr. Louis was nodding profusely.

"So when she told me about you people, I told her to bring you to the landlord. Didnít she tell you that?" He queried.

"There is a problem here Sir." I started.

"Okay, what is the problem?" He asked.

"She told us that she was busy, that she didnít have time. In fact I had demanded this myself due to my last experience, I wanted to meet the Landlord as well, but she told me that she was busy running around for documents to effect change of school for her children and her relocation. She promised she would take us to the Landlord once she returned from Abuja." I explained. He shook his head.

"But that is not good. Itís unfair. She claimed to be busy, now look at the condition and stress she is subjecting a young couple to. A new couple who should be enjoying their honeymoon are now being thrown out like common thieves, from a house they paid for. What kind of busy is that? And yet she calls herself a Sister, a born again."He shook his head again and sighed. From his countenance, he showed genuine concern and hurt at what we were passing through.

"And what about your own agent? Why couldnít he bring you to me? That is what he was supposed to do since the woman has been busy?"

I shook my head."I donít know why he couldnít." I explained.

"That's bad." He complained. "Maybe they were up to something. How much did they collect from you?" He probed. It made sense to ask.

"Six hundred thousand Sir." I told them.

He was shocked. From their reaction, body language and everything, he was. He neednít say it before I knew I was ripped off. I only listened.

"Six hundred what?" He shouted. Both of them grimaced, one shook his head, the other snapped his fingers.

"Six hundred thousand Sir." I repeated. "The agent explained that there were two payment options on the flat. The first option is to pay...."He asked me to hold on.

"Wait. Hold on, I have to call in the Landlord to come and listen to your story; he would be interested in this part of your narrative. But before that I want you to listen."

"Mr. Louis," he called.

"Yes, I'm listening." Mr Louis answered.

"Good. I wanted him to hear from a third party also before hearing from me and landlord."He explained, I could understand where he was going.

"Please can you help me tell this man the total package on this flat he paid for, including Agency and agreement for the two years the woman paid for?"

"Okay." Mr. Louis smiled. "Everything amounted to five hundred thousand naira, no penny no half." Mr. Louis explained. The picture was now getting clearer.

Mr. Owoniyi nodded. "Good. Itís good you heard it from a third party. The woman paid just half a million naira. She paid no other kobo on top. Perhaps, this explains why they didnít want to bring you to the landlord. It was a game; they were dodging because they were guilty. They were afraid because they knew the landlord would ask. They played smart to evade meeting the landlord. They just tricked and duped you like people without conscience. They just earned their cool dirty money by using your brain. This is how they have bastardized and spoilt this real estate agency business in Lagos. This is why everyone in Lagos today is a property agent. Everybody, drop-outs who cannot spell their names have evaded and taken over the industry." He complained.

Now I was boiling deep inside and was rarely listening. I was itching to grab Bro Tony (the agent) on the jugular and ripple him into pieces for the disgrace I suffered on top of his rip-off. Mr. Owoniyi continued.

"But God has caught them this time. They are going to refund every penny they collected from you, except you want to let them eat your money."

"Let me take you to the landlord so that you can narrate this story to him, while we work out a way forward. But they must refund your money, itís unfair. You have to narrate and explain everything to the landlord the way you were explaining it to me. I hope you still have the receipt with which you made payment. Did you pay with check or cash?"

"Check Sir.Ē I said.

"Good. That's a good one." He said as we walked to go and meet the landlord.

"Can you see this, Mr. Louis? People can be terribly wicked in this life. Just for the sake of rotten money people sell their consciences, people can do all sorts of things to acquire wealth, so that they can ride big cars and live above their means. Is this good?"

 "Look at how they have made this young couple miserable."

 We moved over to one end of the premises to look out for the landlord. He was already on his way out of the flat where he had been.

"Gboo! Nwoke, you are still in my premises." He was talking to me.

"I told you to vacate my premises with your load. I donít want to see you around; except you want me to call in the police...if that is the language you would hear."

"I'm waiting for the keke that would carry our load."I explained.

"You have to do that fast. It shouldnít take you the whole day to look for keke Napep, keke is everywhere in Okota. You entered my house illegally, seized my key and went ahead to change it with your own. Is that not a criminal offense?"

 I said nothing.

"He would go Sir, but there is something he is saying that I want you to listen you." Mr Owoniyi pleaded with him. "It would surprise you when he finishes." He assured him.

"Something like what? What is that that I want to listen to? Agbara nnunu nwa ya efelie, tales by moonlight and cock and bull story, is that what you want to waste my time for?"

"No Sir, but just hear the story, you would be surprised at what this world is turning into."

"This one you are pleading on his behalf, maybe you were the person that gave him the flat without my knowledge." He was sounding adamant.

Mr Owoniyi shook his head. "God forbid! How can I do that?

"I should be asking you that question, because I donít understand you again."

"There is nothing Sir. Itís just that the so called agent who gave him the flat used your house for business. He duped the young man six hundred thousand naira, against five hundred thousand naira price we had  rented the flat to them."

"That is how they wanted it, because they didnít come through the right channel. They preferred to come in through the back door. The hide and seek game is over now."

He continued. "I donít even know, keduzia onye wu agent nwa? Gboo, do you know this agent? Have you met him one on one before?Ē He demanded of Mr. Owoniyi. The later shook his head.

 "I donít think I know him. What is his name? Where is his office?" He asked me in turn. I told them everything I knew about Bro. Tony, his name, the location of his thatched make-shift office at Taiwo Street. Mr. Owoniyi declined knowing him.

"Well, there is nothing I can do about that. You have to go and look for him and collect your money back. You have to let them know that I threw your things out, I donít know you, you are not my tenant and there is no way I would give you my house in this circumstance." The landlord struggled to emphasize the 'I donít know you' as if he was trying to deny a criminal who had incriminated him in a crime as an accomplice.

'But have you called that agent today, why not call him? He is supposed to come down here and sort this out, even that woman too. They are supposed to have reached here by now to explain who authorized them to sublet the property to you in the first place, and why they should collect six hundred thousand naira for a house she paid five hundred for." Mr. Owoniyi said.

I explained to him the effort I had made in that regard.

For a couple of times I tried to call Bro Tony but I couldnít reach him. Each time I called, he cut off the line, so I guessed he would be in the church especially as he claimed he was a pastor. I was able to get Madam ---- his sister ---- who sublet the flat to me, but she referred me to Bro Tony, telling me that he was in the best position to sort out the matter. More so, she explained that she was already at Abuja, so there was nothing much she could do. She even told me that when the worst came to the worst, she would ask the landlord to refund her own payment to me, since they had collected her money already, they were not supposed to disturb me. She even swore that she told the landlord that her sister (my wife) and her husband were going to take over the flat, and that he had agreed. She had also explained to him that she was too busy to take us along to him for introduction. Some of the things she was saying made sense to me, a lot didnít, but because I was not in the mood for a long discussion, I stopped the call. I knew she wouldnít care much now because she was home and dry, unlike when she was desperate to get a tenant who would balance her back the money she had paid to the landlord. Then and now, I was wondering why the landlord did not accept to refund her since she had not packed into the flat and had never lived in it, rather than asking her to look for tenant as she had told me.

The landlord caught me short before I could even finish. "There is no need disturbing ourselves." He said. "They know what they have done, so they canít come here." He insisted.

"Can you try that brother again, letís see whether he can pick his call now, service should be over by now." Mr. Owoniyi suggested. I called Bro Tony again. He didnít pick until the third ring, even his voice sounded like someone in a rush.

"Yes Bros what is it? What can I do for you?" He asked hurriedly. "I thought I told you that Iím in service, I told you that I would call you after service." He explained.

"Yes, but there is an emergency." I said.

"What emergency! Have you not packed in?" He asked.

"That is why Iím calling you."

"Okay, what is the problem?" He sounded attentive and relaxed now. ďSpeak up, Iím listening." He sounded like he was truly busy.

"I have moved in, but my loads were thrown out this afternoon, as I'm..."He didnít allow me to finish, he interrupted me instantly.

"That cannot happen. Itís impossible. Who did that?" He demanded, as if he was going to scold whoever it was, before adding, "Is the landlord there with you? Can I speak with him?"

"He wants to speak with you sir." I told the landlord. He declined; he was reluctant to speak with him. But the caretaker encouraged him.

"You have to speak with him Sir, so that he would understand the gravity of what they have done." Mr. Owoniyi pleaded. The landlord took the phone. Mr. Owoniyi whispered something into his ears; he was telling him not to let Bro Tony know that they were aware that he ripped me off. "If he knows he might decide not to show face again. You canít trust people like this." Mr. Owoniyi whispered.

The landlord did not allow him to speak. "Bia nwoke. Whatever you call yourself, whether agent or whatever...Please I donít need your greeting. Keep your good afternoon to yourself, because if it is good enough, you shouldnít have done what you did." I could hear him faintly pleading with the landlord to allow us to move in. I heard him mention 'my sister' several times. And each time the landlord replied him, 'you and your sister are not good human beings.í

"You brought a stranger I do not know into my property, rented out my flat to him without my consent, handed my keys to them, you even changed my keys and replaced them with yours. And worst of all you moved them in. A stranger I do not know from Adam, I donít even know what they do for a living." He scolded; his voice was now rising to crescendo."You people claim that you are Christians, but you are bad people."

"Anyway, I donít have any business with you and your tenant. I have already ejected them and locked my flat. If you and your sister call yourselves good Christians, the only thing you can do to get forgiveness from God is to refund them their money, so that they can look for accommodation elsewhere."He paused before continuing. "Donít come anywhere, I donít want to see you near my premises." He cursed, returning the phone to me.

"Hello Bro Tony." I spoke so that he would know I had taken back the phone.

"Please Bros; donít be offended, Iím coming there right now. Everything would be resolved once I reach there. Just trust in the Lord, the God of Chosen Iím serving would do it."He assured me as I cut the phone.

"What did he say finally?" Mr Owoniyi asked me as the landlord stepped off.

"He said he is coming." I told him.

"Good. Itís even good he comes."He answered. By now the landlord had moved beyond hearing range.

 ďSee what you are going to do now."He was saying. "The landlord is very angry, so we have to let him be. What you can do now is this. Get keke and pack some of your important loads, the rest you can keep somewhere, perhaps with your neighbor or at the corridor. I would try and meet the landlord sometime tomorrow and plead with him on your behalf, by then his temper would have cooled. I would also talk to Madam too. Everything would be fine, but you have to bear it in mind that you are going to fill our form and provide a referee. I hope you have someone who can stand in for you?" I nodded.

The keke that my brother had brought drove in with my uncle who was residing around Okota. My uncle exchanged greetings with us, and then told us that he wanted to see the landlord to plead on our behalf; maybe he would listen to him and consider us. But Mr. Owoniyi advised against that, telling him that the landlord was not in good mood, however he insisted. While my brothers were loading our property, my uncle tried to engage the landlord, yet his efforts were futile. Rather than listen to him, he drove away.

Few minutes later, Bro Tony walked in. Typical of him and most other Chosen Faithful, he was wearing the rampant Chosen green reflective evangelical vest over a white shirt, and black pair of trousers. A handful of chosen members wore the vest across Nigeria as means of identification and evangelize.

Bro Tony was slim in stature, light skinned, a bit of yellow in complexion between cherry and Ixora fruits. He face was narrow, made more so by the skin cut he wore always. Everything about him was flat; his stomach, buttocks, cheeks and chest. There were no bulges anywhere on his body. He looked like he had never eaten in months. His skin shinned like someone who rubbed a cheap cream. His walking style and steps were rhythmic and fast. He walked in sort of mechanics, as if the weight of his body was too light for his frame. So he was always on the run, like somebody perpetually in a rush. His toes did not touch firmly on the ground as he threaded, making him bounce step-wise.

ďYes, yes, good afternoon Sirs. Where is the landlord?" He said, distracting everyone.

"Are you the caretaker?" Mr. Owoniyi demanded. I nodded as he offered me his hand to shake

"That is immaterial Sir. What is important is how to resolve this matter." He explained. "I donít, know whether you are the landlord, so that we can settle this matter amicably once and for all, so that this man can go and enjoy his honeymoon. Itís immaterial whether Iím the caretaker that found the house for him. I did my job, which any other agent would have done." He defended.

Mr Owoniyi sighed. He was discouraged.

"In that case I wonít talk with you, you are not showing remorse for what you have done. Itís best you see the landlord and discuss with him face to face. The landlord has gone home, so you have to find a way to reach him." Mr Owoniyi said. He was now angry.

"Itís not like that Sir. There is a mistake, which I know, but we have to correct it. If you are the landlord tell me so that we can correct the mistake."

He sought help from me.

"He is landlord's caretaker. The landlord just drove away."I explained to him.

"How then can we see the landlord?" He insisted.

 Mr. Owoniyi left us.

It took the intervention of my uncle for Mr. Owoniyi to agree to talk with Bro Tony again. That evening we had a meeting, in which Mr. Owoniyi assured us that he would meet the landlord next day and give us feedback on the way forward. At the end of the day, my uncle asked us to come and squat in his house for the meantime.


Ikechukwu Echebiri is one of Nigeria's most engaging writers.He has written extensively and has six works published locally in Nigeria and digitally on Amazon. His feature essay has appeared on Thresholds. Also, his three other works made the long list of Brilliant Flash fiction, Lifesaver magazine (for which he was awarded a certificate of excellence spirit in writing). However, he is yet to find artist breakthrough with writing.



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